Over the past week, leading up to and following Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s findings in the death of Breonna Taylor, many have said and posted on social media, “Pray for Louisville” or “Pray for our city.”
The throne room of Heaven has received calls and cries from Louisville, and across the nation, for the Lord to save our city. One of the most important things we can do in times of unrest is to go to God on behalf of others. God cares.
Unfortunately, we may have an idea in our minds about the manner in which God saves a city that is different from God’s vision. We might anticipate great calm, a healing of manifest division, the establishment of trusting relationships, and an announcement of justice that satisfies all parties. Those realities will no doubt be the case when King Jesus establishes righteous rule on the earth, but that day is not today.
God’s way of saving a city may counter our expectations. In the Bible, more specifically in the book of Jonah, God temporarily saved a city. Here are some observations concerning what it looks like when God saves a city.
When God saves a city, God sends a preacher to preach. Jonah was a reluctant preacher. He may have been an uncompassionate preacher. But he was certainly a prophetic preacher. He alerted the Ninevites that God’s wrath was coming. People in our city need to hear a clarion call for righteousness from our pulpits, in public discourse, or through personal conversations.
When God saves a city, God convicts the conscience. In Jonah 3:5, after hearing the preaching of Jonah, the people responded with public displays of repentance. That verse reads, So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. They recognized that they had sinned against God and were personally accountable for their sin. People in our city need to grapple with personal sin as well. From the greatest of them even to the least of them, there must be an honest assessment of one's standing before God in light of His law.
When God saves a city, God saves sinners from His wrath. Our culture today pushes the narrative that there are two classes of people in our country. There are oppressors and the oppressed, victims and victimizers, the powerful and the powerless.
The helpful takeaway from this mindset is that no follower of Jesus wants to be an oppressor or a victimizer. It would be beyond tragic for any Christian to use their place of influence and assignment to push others down and elevate themselves. It is also tragic to not speak up for the oppressed. Proverbs 31:9 tells leaders to use their voice to plead the cause of the powerless.
The unhelpful reality of the oppressor/oppressed dichotomy is that it may lead us to believe erroneously that only oppressors and victimizers need salvation in Christ. The truth is, as sinners, we all oppressed the crucified Christ. We deserve God’s wrath. We need deliverance from the wrath of God. That deliverance is found in Christ who settled the debt for our sin on the cross, was buried, and rose again declaring salvation to all, from the greatest to the least, who will repent and believe the gospel.
What must believers do to help the city of Louisville weather the storms of unrest and heartfelt frustration?
First, we must pray. Pray for Louisville. If you do not know what to pray, then consider praying through Psalm 46 on behalf of our state’s largest city.
Second, we must listen. Romans 12:15 demands that we weep with those who weep. We must listen to better understand the perspective and hurt our fellow citizen’s experience. These citizens include those grieving the death of Breonna Taylor and those called to protect and serve our city’s residents.
Third, we must remember our mission. We have the good news that Louisville, and every city and town for that matter, needs. We must remember our mission and be about the work of making Christ, the Savior, known to all, from the greatest to the least.
Pray for Louisville.
DR. TODD GRAY is executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.